A former Ghanaian President, John Kufuor and other eminent Nigerians, on Friday extolled the virtues of former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, describing him as “a gift to Africa’’.
They spoke in Abeokuta at a reception organised for Obasanjo by the South-West zone of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in recognition of his contribution to the party, nation and Africa.
Kufuor, who delivered the keynote address, described the programme as exemplary, noting that very few heroes and legends were celebrated during their lifetime.
He described Obasanjo as a friend, a brother, a confidant and a sympathetic African leader who had contributed immensely to the uplift and transformation of less endowed African countries.
Kufuor recalled that it was Obasanjo who came to his rescue in 2001 when he (Kufuor) took over the reins of governance in Ghana with almost a collapsed economy.
“I had limited options at this time. I quickly ran to Obasanjo and requested that he should lift the fuel embargo Nigeria placed on Ghana for refusing to service its debt.
“Obasanjo graciously accepted and began to sell fuel to Ghana on favourable terms.
“This singular gesture served as impetus for the uplift of Ghana when other donor countries across the globe refused to offer assistance,’’ Kufuor recalled.
Kufuor also recalled how Obasanjo was instrumental to several conflict resolutions between African countries, thereby promoting peace in the continent.
He described Obasanjo as “a growing concern’’ who had continued to work tirelessly for the unity and transformation of the African continent.
Chief Earnest Shonekan, the former Head of Interim National Government, described Obasanjo as a man of integrity.
He noted that Obasanjo was the first Nigerian Military leader who in 1979 relinquished power peacefully to a democratically elected government.
Shonekan said that Obasanjo was passionately committed to the unity and transformation of Nigeria.
The Senate President, David Mark, described Obasanjo as an outstanding Nigerian statesman and a national icon whose love for the nation would be difficult to surpass.
Responding, Obasanjo appreciated the organisers of the programme, attributing his accomplishments to “the grace of God’’.
He said three principles normally guided his actions in life namely: “Can I defend my action before God? Can I defend my action before the people? Will my action benefit majority of people?’’
He said a leader should be “fearless and courageous’’ and be ready to step on “toes’’ whenever it was necessary.
Obasanjo also expressed optimism that Nigeria and the African continent would very soon be ranked as one of the best countries and continents in the world, respectively.
The programme was attended by sitting and past governors, members of the diplomatic corps, captains of industry and traditional rulers among others. (NAN)